Young Labour: Row over access to equalities event https://t.co/pEn5CWCx5a
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 12, 2018
On 12 February, the BBC published an article on an event by UK party Labour‘s youth wing, Young Labour. The event, called the Young Labour Equalities Conference to be held on Saturday 17 March restricts access to those who
“Self-define into one of the following groups: BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic), Disabled, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans), women.“
The Equality and Human Rights Commission meanwhile confirms it has received complaints about the matter and will be assessing details before determining whether any action is needed. The controversy comes mere weeks after Labour faced criticism over what has been dubbed a “racial surcharge” for another event. According to the BBC, Labour has defended its decision by claiming the main purpose of the event is to elect members to its national committee, while giving people space for discussion. A Labour spokesman said:
“there is nothing new about spaces for people with protected characteristics meeting to discuss the inequalities and obstacles they face. The purpose of this conference is to ensure that members from disadvantaged groups are able to elect representatives to Young Labour’s National Committee. All other positions on the committee are elected online, via a ‘one member, one vote’ system.“
Whereas in the past, the BBC explains, Young Labour selected all their committee members at an annual event, the party is moving to a new system of online voting for most positions on its national committee. This includes the chair, representatives from England, Scotland and Wales, as well as its representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee. However, it lacks necessary information on the identities of members, eligible to vote for the equalities representatives. That is the stated reason the event is taking place.
The strict entry demands have come under fire, with opponents taking to social media “suggesting the exclusion of certain groups was a form of discrimination in itself.” Sympathisers have struck back, accusing critics of “trying ‘to whip up a culture war’.” The fact that with
“(…) mandatory positions for black, Asian and other ethnic minority members (…) guaranteeing at least five BAME members on the elected Committee. (…) and a rule that at least half of the elected bloc positions should be reserved for self-defining women, with an aim to increase the representation of this group,“
Young Labour is itself demanding privileged positions based on race and gender seems to be lost on some. Young Labour Women unironically tweeted both:
Will no-one think of the straight white men?!!?11 😒
This is a conference to elect the BAME, disabled, LGBT and Women’s Officers. If you don’t fall into any of those categories, what would be the point in attending? Cool it with the faux outrage and get a hobby pal. https://t.co/k6Qdms9dbq
— Young Labour Women (@YoungLabWomen) February 11, 2018
PSA: Straight white men can be trans.
Straight white men can be disabled.
Stop trynna be a poundshop Steve Bannon. https://t.co/2QNrvD18JY
— WYL (@wandsyounglab) February 12, 2018
In reality, if white men are nót trans, Young Labour will nót think of them, as made abundantly clear from a post on the BAME Labour blog. Siddo Dwyer, a young Labour activist and Vice Chair of Enfield North CLP, who previously served as London Young Labour BAME Officer 2015-2016 explicitly writes:
“As a party, Labour prides itself on equality, extending opportunity to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it; promoting progressive politics; being the voice of the ostracised. Identity politics is our politics. (…) How can we as a political party purport to serve the interests of Londoners but fail to do this in our own house? Especially in a youth organisation which aims to represent the most diverse city in our country.“
In view of this, the question is simple: how many posts have been reserved for white, heterosexual males? And if none are, is follows that according to Young Labour, it is not being seen as an identity. And if it is not an identity, Young Labour will not represent them. Because according to Young Labour, only someone of your own ‘identity’, callously defined through race, sex and sexual preference, can represent you. A textbook definition of racism, discrimination and sexism, identifying race, sexual preference and biological sex with certain attributes. It is insulting to the minorities Young Labour says it’s trying to represent. It is also clear, that in addition to their racist, discriminatory and sexist policies, Young Labour is practising small-scale Apartheid. All in the name of a ‘diversity’ that is rigidly proscribed. “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.“